In honor of the country’s last white president, Frederick de Klerk, who passed away on November 11 at 85, South Africa declared four days of national mourning. Frederick de Klerk remains a controversial figure in the country despite his role in dismantling the apartheid system. He received a Nobel Peace Prize along with Mandela in 1993. His death caused mixed reactions in South Africa, with some criticizing him for never having made a full apology for the crimes of apartheid. In most of his political career, de Klerk supported the whites-only rules. Furthermore, he was also accused of playing a role in the murderous rampage of anti-apartheid activists.
On the other hand, some South Africans say de Klerk needs to be honored for other positive contributions that he has made to the country. In a shocking speech to Parliament in February 1990, de Klerk announced the release of the regime’s number one enemy, Nelson Mandela, and the legalization of his party, the African National Congress (ANC). This includes other parties fighting the segregationist system, paving the way for South Africa’s democratic transition characterized by a free interracial election and ending the apartheid system.
National mourning will start from Wednesday evening to Sunday evening. The office of President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that “The national flag will be flown at half-mast as a mark of respect”. A private funeral will take place on Sunday. An official commemoration will also be held at a date that has yet to be determined.
In a posthumous video, released a few hours after his death, the former president attempts to correct this impression and apologizes “unreservedly” for the pain, suffering, indignity, and damage that apartheid inflicted.